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Is $1/day OK? | Proudly pro-union | Industrial athletes | Take that lousy job and shove it

Wednesday, June 2, 2021




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, June 2 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 436,984 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 925) and 5,789 deaths.

► From the NY Times — EEOC says companies can mandate vaccines, but few push ahead — The agency that enforces workplace discrimination laws has said — twice — that companies can make their employees who are returning to the job get vaccinated against COVID-19. But so far, few companies have decided to move forward, as many are still engaging in internal debates about how to safely restore their offices to operations that resemble what they were before the pandemic.

► From the PSBJ — What employers can do when a worker refuses to be vaccinated




► From the News Tribune — Trial to determine if GEO must pay detainees minimum wage — After nearly four years of litigation and pandemic-related delays, a trial is underway to determine whether the GEO Group must pay minimum wage to detainees who perform cooking, cleaning and other tasks at its immigration detention center in Washington state. Detainees are typically paid $1 per day when they work shifts in the Voluntary Work Program at the for-profit Northwest detention center in Tacoma. The state’s minimum wage is now $13.69 per hour. … In a separate effort, the state is now trying to close it entirely. Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law passed by the the Democratic-led Legislature that would ban for-profit detention centers in Washington. GEO has sued to block it.

► From Crosscut — Washington’s legal system severely backlogged following pandemic — Even if Judge James Rogers excludes all cases of nonviolent crime and adds one extra judge, he estimates it will still take King County about 13 years to work through the backlog of criminal cases that have built up over the pandemic. That’s 13 years of longer jail times for some of the accused — who are still presumed innocent —and 13 years of waiting for delayed legal proceedings for the accusers.

► From the (Everett) Herald — Inslee’s recent vetos may prove costly to his goals (editorial) — Climate legislation wins may have come at the cost of support from fellow Democrats and tribes.




► From Reuters — The $15 billion jet dilemma facing Boeing’s CEO — Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun faces a multibillion-dollar dilemma over how to rebuild sales in its core airliner business that has sparked an internal debate and put the future of the largest U.S. exporter on the line, industry insiders say. Without a perfectly timed new addition to its portfolio, analysts warn America risks ceding to Europe a huge portion of the single-aisle jet market — valued by planemakers at some $3.5 trillion over 20 years. But Boeing is not yet ready to settle on a plan to develop a new plane to counter the A321neo, and two leading options – press ahead now or wait until later – come with financial and strategic risks, several people briefed on the discussions said.




► From the News Tribune — 3 Tacoma police to stay on city payroll despite being charged with killing Manuel Ellis — An internal investigation into whether the officers violated departmental policy was launched shortly after the charges were announced Thursday. The outcome of the investigation will determine their employment status and whether there needs to be disciplinary actions.

► From the Bellingham Herald — ‘Emergency situation’ closes Bellingham Municipal Court as judge’s lawsuit moves to Skagit — The emergency closure comes just days after Bellingham Municipal Court Judge Debra Lev filed a lawsuit in Whatcom County Superior Court against the city of Bellingham and Mayor Seth Fleetwood alleging that the city’s investigations into court working conditions have violated the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, and after six court employees walked off the job May 27 alleging intolerable working conditions.




► From the LA Times — Biden is ‘proudly pro-union.’ Can he reverse labor’s long decline? — As Joe Biden launched his presidential run, he made an early stop at the Washington headquarters of the AFL-CIO to meet with its president, Richard Trumka. The former vice president talked about economic inequality and sluggish wages, analyzing them as a product of the outsize power corporations have over workers, Trumka said. In other words, he said, Biden talked like a union guy. Two years later, that memory spotlights the contrast Trumka and many other union leaders see between Biden and former President Obama, whose administration often left them frustrated. “Obama and [Bill] Clinton both surrounded themselves with a lot of Wall Street people who had no clue,” Trumka said in an interview. “We were an annoyance to be dealt with.” Biden has put unions at the center of policy — viewing them as vehicles not only to rebuild middle-class jobs but also to address climate change and racial and gender inequity.

► From the (Everett) Herald — For some, advance Child Tax Credit payments will be lifeline — In mid-July, the IRS will begin making advanced payments of the Child Tax Credit. Families who qualify can receive up to $300 a month — $3,600 for the 2021 tax year — for each child under the age of 6. They also can receive as much as $250 a month — $3,000 total — for each child 6 to 17 years old. Previously, the tax credit maxed out at the end of the year at $2,000 for each child under 17. For some cash-strapped families, the front-ended payments will help bridge the gap as they try to regain their footing in a workforce taking baby steps out of the pandemic.

► From the AP — Biden prioritizes U.S. voting rights law as restrictions mount — President Joe Biden used the 100th anniversary of Tulsa’s race massacre to make a plea for sweeping legislation in Congress to protect the right to vote as Republican-led governments in Texas and other states pass new restrictions making it tougher to cast ballots. Biden, marking the centennial in Oklahoma on Tuesday, called out lawmakers in Congress — including two senators in his own party — for holding up action on voting bills.

► From HuffPost — 100 experts express ‘growing alarm’ that Republicans are endangering democracy — “Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.”




► From the Seattle Times — Amazon delivery drivers are injured more often than the company’s warehouse workers — Drivers for the hundreds of Amazon delivery contractors in the U.S. ferrying packages to customers’ doorsteps sustain injuries at higher rates than any other link in the commerce giant’s logistics chain, according to a new report from a national labor organization.

► From CNBC — Amazon warehouse workers injured at higher rates than those at rival companies, study finds — In 2020, there were 5.9 serious injuries for every 100 Amazon warehouse workers, which is nearly 80% higher than the serious injury rate at non-Amazon warehouses, the Strategic Organizing Center wrote in a new report published Tuesday. The SOC said serious injuries include any injuries that require employees to either miss work entirely, known as “lost time injuries,” or be placed on light or restricted duty.

► From Vice — Amazon calls warehouse workers ‘industrial athletes’ in leaked wellness pamphletIn a leaked Amazon pamphlet obtained by Motherboard, the company describes warehouse workers as “industrial athletes” and details how its Working Well program will help workers by laying out guidelines to “prepare their bodies” for walking “up to 13 miles a day” or lifting “a total of 20,000 pounds” during a shift. … Other recommended steps include tips such as buying shoes “at the end of the day when your feet are swollen to allow for plenty of room when they swell during work.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — How much more evidence is needed to demonstrate that Amazon prioritizes profit over the safety and health of its employees? Some previous headlines:

► From the Seattle Times (May 25) — Amazon’s relentless pace is injuring warehouse workers and violating the law, Washington state regulator says

► From the Seattle Times (Oct. 21, 2020) — Amazon’s warehouses have more costly workplace injury claims than meatpacking or logging, Washington state says

► From the Seattle Times (Sept. 29, 2020) — A safety crisis inside Amazon’s warehouses — Records shows that company officials have profoundly misled the public and lawmakers about its record on worker safety.




► From the Seattle Times — Study: The Americans most confident of spotting ‘fake news’ may be the most vulnerable to it — The study states that “these results paint a worrying picture: Individuals least equipped to identify false news content are also the least aware of their own limitations and therefore more susceptible to its effects and most likely to contribute to its spread.”




► From the NY Times — Americans don’t want to return to lousy low wage jobs (by Daniel Alpert) — The majority of the jobs that aren’t back to prepandemic work force levels are very low-income jobs; they are what the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index, calls low-quality jobs. Twenty-three million of these jobs paid under $500 per week prepandemic: That’s $26,000 per year. Not only are the wages low: Many of these jobs offer well below 30 hours of work per week. … The chronic problem we face as we put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror is that the U.S. economy before the pandemic was incredibly dependent on an abundance of low-wage, low-hours jobs. It was a combo that yielded low prices for comfortably middle-class and wealthier customers and low labor costs for bosses, but spectacularly low incomes for tens of millions of others. This dynamic was first brought into stark relief by the discourse about “essential workers” during the worst of the pandemic. Now it will be highlighted by the frustrating, unequal outcomes of this Great Reopening.

EDITOR’S NOTE — If you find yourself in a “lousy job,” get more information about forming a union to make it a better job. You have the right — and the power — to join together with your co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Contact a union organizer today!


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